A redhead school pupil has been banned from her school because her hair is too ginger.

Emily Reay, 17, broke down in tears when teachers at Trinity School in Carlisle, Cumbria, told her to tone down her locks when she returned from the Easter break. The A-level student has been warned to not return to lessons unless she changes her appearance.

"I was very angry at first, and then burst into tears. I've had the same colour for the past three years and nobody at school has commented on it," Reay said.

She is known at her school as the "young ginger singer". She said: "For me it is a confidence thing, if I had to dye my hair brown, I would lose this."

Her parents are backing Reay's decision, who is naturally auburn, to not change her hair colour. "They had her in tears. They do not realise what her hair means to her. The irony is she is playing Scaramouche in the school's adaptation of We Will Rock You, which is about society suppressing people's creativity and self-expression," said her mother, Julie, 44.

"The school's uniform policy clearly states no unnatural hair colours, like blue or green. Is ginger not a natural hair colour?"

Reay, who is in her last year of A-levels, said she would continue going to school regardless, hoping nothing will be said as it will be "too damaging for her stage of education".

Sixth-form head Andrew Winter issued the following statement: "Trinity School sixth-form students are role models for the rest of the school.

"We have a policy of maintaining high standards. All sixth-form students are issued with information about what is acceptable or unacceptable at the start of the academic year. The vast majority of parents are very keen on our high standards."